Absence makes the heart grow fonder. -
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 93, Part II, 12 August1997



This is Part II of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Newsline.
Part II is a compilation of news concerning Central, Eastern,
and Southeastern Europe.  Part I, covering Russia,
Transcaucasia and Central Asia, is distributed simultaneously
as a second document.  Back issues of RFE/RL NewsLine are
available through RFE/RL's WWW pages:
http://www.rferl.org/newsline/search/

Back  issues of the OMRI Daily Digest are available through
OMRI's WWW pages: http://www.omri.cz/

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Headlines, Part II

*NEW GOVERNMENT APPOINTMENTS IN UKRAINE


*LAST ITALIAN TROOPS LEAVE ALBANIA


*ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT PLANS TO LIQUIDATE FURTHER LOSS-
MAKING ENTERPRISES

End Note
IS ALBANIA'S NEW GOVERNMENT CARRYING OUT PURGES OR
REFORMS?

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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

NEW GOVERNMENT APPOINTMENTS IN UKRAINE. President Leonid
Kuchma on 11 August appointed Valery Smoliy as deputy prime
minister. Smoliy, a historian and member of the Academy of
Sciences, replaces Ivan Kuras, who is retiring. Kuchma also appointed
Valeriy Cherep, the chairman of the parliament's regional
development committee, as minister for transportation; Volodymyr
Radchenko as first deputy minister of the coal industry, Volodymyr
Husakov to be Construction, Architecture and Housing Committee
chairman. The information, justice, and family and youth portfolios
remain to be filled, UNIAN reported.

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT SIGNS DECREE WRITING OFF DEBTS. Also on
11 August, Kuchma signed a decree writing off debts incurred by
state car manufacturer AvtoZaz, Ukrainian Television reports. The
move was demanded by the South Korean car manufacturer Daewoo
as a condition for the creation of a joint venture.

"VECHIRNYA ODESA" EDITOR KILLED. Borys Derevianenko, editor in
chief of the newspaper "Vechirnya Odesa" was shot dead on 11
August by an unknown assailant. Odessa Oblast Police Administrator
Col. Hryhoriy Yepur said Derevianenko was shot in the chest and
abdomen with an automatic gun. An investigation team has been set
up on the orders of President Kuchma by the Interior Ministry, the
Prosecutor-General's Office, and the security service. The Odessa
Oblast administrator called the murder a political act that was most
likely connected with his work and therefore an attack on
democracy, Unian reported. Colleagues of Derevyanko say they
believe his killing is related to the newspaper's opposition to the
municipal authorities.

BELARUSIAN PRIME MINISTER SAYS REAL INCOMES RISING. Sergei
Ling said on 11 August that real incomes in the country are growing.
But Interfax quotes the country's trade union leader, Vladimir
Goncharik, as saying the opposite is the case. At a meeting in Minsk
between Ling and the leadership of the Trade Unions Federation,
Goncharik said overdue wages since the beginning of the year have
reached 791 billion Belarusian rubles ($29.3 million). He says the
unions are demanding that the official minimum wage be increased
from 170,000 rubles ($6.30) a month to at least 600,000 ($22.22)
and that the minimum monthly wage be raised from its current level
of 50,000 rubles ($5.55). But Ling said this would be impossible at
present. He called for a "calm and balanced" solution since the
government "doesn't have such a sackful of money."

RUSSIAN PRESS RESPONSE TO FREEZING OF BALTIC BANK ACCOUNTS.
According to BNS, Russian newspapers and financial institutions
maintain that Baltic banks with accounts in Russia have broken that
country's law. The accusations follow the freezing of bank accounts of
a number of Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian banks (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 11 August 1997). The Moscow-based newspaper
"Segodnya" argues that legislation allows companies in Russia to
evade taxes through the use of accounts with foreign banks. "To say
now that the Russian tax authorities didn't see all the violations
earlier would be...dishonest," the newspaper commented. Moscow has
not made an official comment on the decision to block the accounts.
Meanwhile, Estonia's Tallinna Pank, Forekspank, and Krediidipank
are reported to have filed suit against the Russian tax police to
demand compensation for losses incurred by the blockage.

NOTE: The Estonian Foreign Ministry has pointed out that the item
titled "Baltics React Angrily to Freezing of Bank Accounts in Russia"
in "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 August 1997 is misleading since there has
been no official reaction from Tallinn. We apologize for any
confusion.

WIESENTHAL CENTER CALLS FOR BOYCOTT OF VILNIUS MEETING.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center has called on Jews to boycott a
commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the death of Gaon Elijah
of Vilnius, BNS reported on 11 August. Efraim Zuroff, the director of
the center's headquarters in Jerusalem, said participation by Israelis
and U.S. Jewish groups in the Vilnius commemoration would
"undermine" the current campaign to put pressure on Lithuania to
bring Nazi war criminals to trial. In a letter to the Lithuanian
ambassador to Israel, Zuroff also proposed transferring the remains
of the Jewish sage to Israel. The Lithuanian government is
sponsoring the meeting in September in Vilnius to commemorate the
gaon's death in 1797.

POLES DISSATISFIED WITH GOVERNMENT MEASURES IN DEALING
WITH FLOODS. According to a poll published by the Warsaw-based
Center for Public Opinion Research on 11 August, 43 percent of Poles
directly affected by the floods say they are dissatisfied with the way
the government has so far dealt with the recent floods. Only 28
percent said the government performed well. A majority of
respondents, however, expressed satisfaction with the work of the
fire departments, the police, and soldiers.

FLOODS CAUSE $1.76 BILLION IN DAMAGE IN CZECH REPUBLIC. Jiri
Skalicky, the environment minister and commissioner for dealing
with the recent floods, says flooding in Moravia and eastern Bohemia
caused damage totaling some 60 billion Czech crowns ($1.76 billion).
He added that 2,500 homes were destroyed and 15,000 damaged,
Czech media reported on 12 August. Skalicky says the figure may
still rise. The Environmental Inspectorate has registered 19 cases of
leaks of dangerous substances, including oil, from inundated storage
facilities.

CZECH ENVIRONMENT MINISTRY ISSUES GOLD PROSPECTING LICENSE.
The Environment Ministry on 11. August issued a one-year license to
Britain's Greenwich Resources to carry out a geological survey of gold
and mineral deposits in the Rozmital area, southwest of Prague, Czech
media reported. The license stipulates 25 conditions, most of which
are related to environmental protection and state interests. The
Constitutional Court has rejected a complaint by the town of Rozmital
pod Tremsinem that says the issue of the town's participation in the
licensing proceedings has not been resolved. A ministry
spokeswoman says legislation regulating geological surveys does not
give local communities the right to participate in those proceedings.

SLOVAK MILITARY SEES ADVANTAGES OF NATO MEMBERSHIP. Col.
Vladimir Kmec, the head of the Defense Ministry's Center for
Strategic Studies, told RFE/RL's Slovak Service on 11 August that an
analysis by his office shows that if Slovakia were to join NATO, its
armed forces would be more effective and less costly to maintain. He
says an individual defense system would be worse for the armed
forces, which he predicts will be in for a "shock" when the Czech
Republic, Poland and Hungary become NATO members.

SLOVAKIA PREDICTS BIG, BUT LOW-QUALITY HARVEST. Agricultural
Minister Peter Baco, speaking on Slovak Radio on 11 August, said
Slovakia has so far harvested 200,000 tons more grain than a year
ago and intends to export 250,000 tons of grain. But he says the rye,
wheat, and barley is of poorer quality than last year and will be
difficult to market abroad, even at lower prices.

HUNGARIAN, ROMANIAN DEFENSE MINISTERS MEET. Romanian
Defense Minister Victor Babiuc, whose planned two-day visit to
Budapest was postponed (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 April 1997 and
related item below) made a brief stop at Budapest airport on 11
April and met with his Hungarian counterpart, Gyoergy Keleti.
Hungarian media reported that the two "compared notes on mutual
cooperation." They also agreed that the postponed visit will now take
place in the fall.

HUNGARIAN TELEVISION TO LAY OFF 750 MORE EMPLOYEES THIS
YEAR. Some 750 employees of Hungarian Television (MTV) are to be
laid off this year, bringing the total number of employees to below
3,000, an MTV official told Hungarian media on 11 August. Since the
state-owned television channel was transformed into a share-holding
company last year, 454 people have been laid off, including 219 this
year, the official added. MTV has paid out 290 million forints ($1.5
million) in severance and an additional 130 million in social
insurance contributions.

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

ALBANIAN POLICE ROUND UP GANG IN VLORA. The Interior Ministry
on 11 August announced that special police units arrested at least
three members of the Zani Gang in Vlora. All three men have
criminal records. One gang member was wounded, and gunfire could
be heard near the home of gang leader Zani Caushi. Some news
agency reports said that other gang members later attacked the
police. The gang has had a high profile in Vlora during the recent
months of anarchy. The 11 August raid was the first such police
dragnet in that troubled port town since the new government began
its crackdown on lawbreakers in July. Meanwhile in Shkodra in the
north, the authorities called on citizens to hand in their illegally-
owned weapons voluntarily before the police begin confiscating
them.

LAST ITALIAN TROOPS LEAVE ALBANIA. Some 60 Italian soldiers
flew out of Albania on 11 August, one day before the official end of
the mandate of Operation Alba. Italy launched that project, together
with other European countries, in April in order to provide some
security for the 29 June elections. Nine Italian military advisers and
several dozen Greek troops remain in Albania to help reorganize and
train the police and the army. Those remaining foreign troops are not
part of a multinational operation but are serving under bilateral
agreements between Albania and the respective countries. Both Italy
and Greece fear another influx of refugees and criminals unless order
returns to Albania. Bedri Soku, the deputy director of the Albanian
prison authorities, told AFP on 11 August that Italian aid to reequip
six vandalized prisons has begun to arrive.

MONTENEGRIN RULING PARTY HAS TWO PRESIDENTIAL
CANDIDATES. The Electoral Commission in Podgorica on 11 August
confirmed the presidential candidacy of incumbent President Momir
Bulatovic on the ticket of Democratic Socialist Party (DPS) in the 5
October elections. The commission has, however, already accepted
the presidential candidacy of Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic for the
DPS. The two men lead rival factions of the party, which has yet to
formally split. Each man and his respective backers claim to be the
sole legitimate DPS candidate. Blagota Mitric, the president of the
Constitutional Court, told an RFE/RL correspondent in Podgorica that
he finds the commission's ruling "amazing," since Montenegrin law
clearly limits each party to one candidate. Mitric said the court could
rule on the matter within 48 hours of receiving a request to do so.
News agencies reported that commission members felt that the DPS
has become two parties and that both candidates should be on the
ballot.

BOSNIAN CENTRAL BANK STARTS OPERATIONS. Serge Robert, the
French banker who heads the Bosnian Central Bank, said in Sarajevo
on 11 August that the bank has begun operations. Transactions will
be electronic only until the three sides can agree on a design for a
common currency. The new bills are expected to go into circulation
three months after the design is approved. The new monetary unit
will be called the "convertible mark" and pegged on a one-to-one
basis to the German mark, which has long served as the unofficial
second currency throughout the former Yugoslavia. Current Bosnian
dinars can be exchanged at the rate of 100 dinars for one convertible
mark. International aid donors have warned the three sides that
they stand to lose reconstruction assistance unless they cooperate
with Central Bank. Joint Bosnian institutions now function poorly, if
at all.

PLAVSIC TO HEAD OWN PARTY IN BOSNIAN SERB ELECTIONS.
Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic said in Banja Luka on 11
August that she will head a new political party in the elections she
has called for 12 October (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 August 1997).
Criticizing the faction in the Bosnian Serb leadership loyal to Radovan
Karadzic, she added that one cannot promote Serbian interests by
undemocratic means, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Banja
Luka. Plavsic regards the Karadzic group as a mafia. She added that
"it is irrational to confront the international community when the
consequences of such behavior can be fatal for the Republika
Srpska."

NON-NATIONALIST APPEALS FOR SUPPORT IN BOSNIAN VOTE.
Opposition politician Stjepan Kljuic said on 11 August in Sarajevo that
his non-nationalist Joint List for Bosnia-Herzegovina 97 remains open
to all parties who want a democratic and united Bosnia. He accused
the three governing nationalist parties of manipulating voter
registration for the September local elections, an RFE/RL
correspondent reported from the Bosnian capital. In Zepce, officials
from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
reported threats and attempts at intimidation made by unnamed
persons against the OSCE's local staff. The OSCE has had problems in
the past with attempts by local Muslim politicians to manipulate
voter registration.

ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT PLANS TO LIQUIDATE FURTHER LOSS-
MAKING ENTERPRISES. Sorin Dimitriu, the chairman of the State
Property Fund, said on 11 August that the list of loss-making
enterprises slated for liquidation contains the names of 222
companies, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. He added that at
least five of those companies are large and that Romvag, one of the
17 companies included on the list announced recently, may be saved
from liquidation and privatized if it manages to pay off its debts to
the state budget by 25 August. Also on 11 August, representatives of
the management and the trade unions from two Ploiesti refineries
slated for liquidation held talks in Bucharest with government
officials. Minister of Reforms Ulm Spineanu said after the talks that
small components of the two refineries may survive if private
investors express interest in buying them.

ROMANIAN DEFENSE MINISTRY DENIES TENSIONS WITH HUNGARY. A
spokesman for the Romanian Ministry of Defense has said that
Minister of Defense Victor Babiuc's visit to Budapest (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 11 August 1997) was postponed due to "technical
reasons," RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. He stressed that the
postponement had nothing to do with interethnic tensions in
Transylvania over bilingual street signs, adding that a letter will soon
be sent to "Evenimentul zilei" in response to the daily's recent claim
that tensions in Transylvania are endangering Romanian-Hungarian
relations. But Gyorgy Tokay, the minister in charge of ethnic
minorities affairs in the Romanian government, on 11 August
deplored the tensions over the posting of the bilingual signs. He said
those tensions were "artificial" and could have "damaging effects." He
also noted that it was "strange" that supporters of European
integration fail to see that the bilingual signs meet international
standards for dealing with minority affairs.

ROMANIAN OPPOSITION SPLINTER-PARTY OFFICIALLY REGISTERS
AT TRIBUNAL. The Alliance for Romania (APR), which split from the
Party of Social Democracy in Romania in June, officially registered as
an independent political formation on 11 August. The Bucharest
Municipal Tribunal is to rule on the party's legal status on 4
September. APR leader Teodor Melescanu said the party is now
represented in the parliament by 13 deputies and two senators and
that seven more deputies and three more senators will join the
formation in the fall. He added that the party will elect its leadership
at an October congress. Until then, Melescanu remains acting
chairman, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported.

STALLED CHISINAU-TIRASPOL TALKS. Anatol Taranu, the chief
negotiator for Moldova in parleys with the breakaway Transdniester
region, told BASA-press on 11 August that Tiraspol's stance does not
tally with the viewpoint of the three mediators -- Russia, Ukraine,
and the OSCE. He said Tiraspol does not accept the principle of
Moldovan territorial integrity. Transdniestrian intransigence, Taranu
added, can be explained only by the fact that Tiraspol is supported
from the "outside." Vladimir Atamanyuk, the deputy chairman of the
Transdniester Supreme Soviet, told BASA-press that Tiraspol accepts
the principle of the "common state" but wants that state to be a
confederation of equal partners. Atamanyuk added that if Moldova is
not ready to accept this position "there are other countries we could
build a common state with -- look at the example of the Russia-
Belarus union."

LYNCHING IN TRANSDNIESTER. Citing ITAR-TASS, Reuters reported
on 11 August that an unemployed man was found hanged on a tree,
with a cucumber stuck in his mouth, near the town of Dubasari. He
was apparently killed by vegetable producers angry at the
widespread theft of their produce. Earlier this summer, an angry
mob caught several thieves near Chisinau, beat them up, removed
their clothes, smeared them with mud, and led them through the
neighborhood to humiliate them.

BULGARIA HAS LOWEST BIRTHRATE IN EUROPE. The National
Institute for Statistics on 11 August said Bulgarians, weighed down
by the ongoing economic crisis, have the lowest birthrate in Europe,
AFP reported. With 7.79 newborns per 1,000 inhabitants, Bulgaria's
birthrate in has dropped behind that of Latvia (8.5 per 1,000 in
1996).

END NOTE

IS ALBANIA'S NEW GOVERNMENT CARRYING OUT PURGES OR
REFORMS?

by Fabian Schmidt

Albania's new government, composed of Socialists and their coalition
allies, has a highly ambitious program. Foreign Minister Paskal Milo
of the Social Democratic Party has announced that his long-term
goals are joining the EU and NATO. Earlier, Prime Minister Fatos Nano
stressed that good relations with the U.S. and the EU are of primary
importance to Albania.

But Albania has a long way to go to reach those ambitious goals.
After months of unrest and anarchy, the challenges facing the
politicians are huge. Most important, they have to crack down on the
gangs that are still controlling large areas, especially in the south,
and continuing to wage gang wars that cost dozens of lives each
week. Interior Minister Neritan Ceka from the Democratic Alliance
Party has pledged to secure all roads in the country within the next
two months. But in order to do so, he will have to reform the police
to make it a more professional body. Delegates to a recent
international conference in Rome have promised broad assistance,
including equipping and training police officers.

Rome will also keep 500 soldiers in the country after the
multinational forces withdraw at the end of August. Those troops will
help rebuild the army, which fell apart shortly after the unrest
started in February. The government will also need to reform the
judiciary, which is regarded as a political tool of past governments
and presidents.

But the necessary reforms can do more harm than good if they are
not carried out carefully. The police, the courts, and the state media
were highly politicized institutions under the previous Democratic
government. The new ministers have indicated that they plan to sack
a large number of high-ranking officials, and they have already
started appointing successors. But they seem bent on continuing to
appoint officials for their loyalty to the political party in power
rather than for their independence and professional qualities. The
appointees may thus prove loyal servants of a party rather than of a
democratic state, thereby impeding the reform progress.

There are already clear indications that the new government wants
to make radical personnel changes in the administration, contributing
to the public perception that government employees will again be
primarily political appointees. Both Justice Minister Thimio Kondi and
Defense Minister Sabit Brokaj have told directors of departments
within their ministries and top officers that they should resign
voluntarily or expect to be sacked. Brokaj even indicated that some
top-ranking officers may be put on trial for what he called "violating
the constitution" by sending troops against protesters earlier this
year or by abandoning arms depots to looters. Although there have
been only a few dismissals to date, the Democratic Party has opened
an office giving legal advise to those affected by what the Democrats
call "political purges."

But not everyone who was in opposition under the Democrats is
happy with the new government's appointments. Frrok Cupi, a well-
known and respected journalist of the independent daily "Koha Jone,"
has refused to accept the post of head of the state news agency, ATA.
His predecessor, Ilir Zhilla, was an appointee of the Democratic Party,
which, after winning the 1992 elections, exercised strict control over
agency policy.

Cupi's refusal to accept the post highlights the dilemma of the new
government. It desperately needs qualified personnel to help
overcome the politicization of the administration. But many of the
people with the professional qualities and integrity to change the
country's political culture do not want to become the next generation
of officials who are under pressure to carry out their jobs and, at the
same time, remain loyal to the governing political party.

The author is a Balkan analyst specializing in Albanian, Kosovar, and
Macedonian affairs.


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